Funerals, Death, Loss & the Adoptee, Only Speaking for Me!

I would really like to know if its only me, as an adult adoptee that has a strange disconnection with funerals, death and loss or do other adoptees have similar feelings?

Being an adoptee, have you ever had anyone say, “Well, since you didn’t have a relationship with “them” (bio fam) then I’m sure that’s much easier to process the loss, because there really is no loss!”…. As if losing what could have been doesn’t even exist. As if we shouldn’t be sad for the lost relationships, lost memories, lost time, lost birthdays together, lost holidays together, lost EVERYTHING!


I know, it’s my issue, my problem, and I am the one who is working through this so I can get to the other side! I don’t want to be stuck here forever! Why would I? It’s heartbreak day in and day out! This place is where I can share my feelings, so that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve had multiple close friends lose a loved one recently, a mother or a father, or a sister or a brother. It’s extremely difficult for me to sympathize on how it feels to lose that “close” relationship for the simple fact I’ve never had that with my birth parents, or my adoptive parents. Adoption created a invisible separation from the closeness and life long bonds that I WOULD have had with my biological parents, & siblings if I would not have been adopted. And although I have no relationship with my adoptive mom, (never have had a bond) I care deeply for my adoptive dad, but it’s just not the same even when everyone wishes it was. He IS the closest thing I have to a bond with my adoptive family, (aside from some cousins, and aunts) I cherish them.

What I wonder, is how does the world expect me to turn on my feelings and grieve the loss of someone I made memories with, when they denied me my right to grieve the loss of my entire family whom I had no memories with? HOW DO I DO THAT? I had to learn how to cope on my own from the time I was a small child. I grieved in my own way by searching, and dreaming, and trying to find out where I came from.  I cried silent tears from the moment I found out I was adopted and have every single say since. But now, when someone dies I’m supposed to be a certain way… What if I don’t feel the same way other people do? Does that make me wrong? Or bad? What if I’m simply OVERJOYED that we whoever died have at least one or two, or if I’m lucky multiple memories with them and that’s more than I have ever been given with my biological family. When someone dies I hear over and over, stories of time spent with grandparents, mothers, fathers, and I sit and listen and hear the person sharing such special memories. Every single time, I’m reminded of how precious a memory is, and how I WISH I had ONE memory with my biological grandmother, or grandfather. I WISH I had ONE conversation of how much my birth mother “loved me” while looking into her eyes. After all, I was told she loved me so much my whole life, but she didn’t want to even get to know me. That was another lie. I wish I had ONE memory with my birth father, about his child hood, or his life growing up. I wish my birth father knew the day I was born, that was stolen from him and he will never be telling me “Happy Birthday”. Another loss, stolen forever. This is just a piece of what I’m angry about. You know ANGER is a part of the stages of the grief and loss process? Thank God for this safe place of mine to process my grief! If I was able to grieve my losses growing up I might not be doing it at 40 years old. But here I am, sharing my journey with the world. Yes, I’m angry and I am having a hard time getting over what was LOST. Chances are I might never “get over it”, but I will continue to put my hope in God, work on my issues, and develop healthy ways to share my feelings since I was told by the world my whole life to just be thankful! and writing is one of my favorite places to share my feelings on how it feels to be adopted.

I’M SORRY BUT I CAN’T RELATE TO FUNERALS, FAMILIES GATHERINGS, CRYING AND SHARING STORIES ABOUT MY LOVED ONES WHEN THEY DIE OR REMINISCING ABOUT MEMORIES ABOUT GROWING UP & FAMILY REUNIONS & HOLIDAY GATHERINGS.  That process was stolen from me for the people that I searched for my entire life as well as any memories that COULD have been if I were not adopted. How do I all of a sudden  distinguish HOW TO GRIEVE my loss for someone who is in my adoptive family, or a close friend, when I couldn’t grieve for my losses associated with losing an entire family! I have a hard time with this!!!

I’ve accepted being adopted but that doesn’t change how I FEEL about being adopted!

I honestly feel like I don’t need funerals to accept that fact that someone is gone! I have been expected by society to just FORGET ABOUT THOSE I LOVE (yes, I can love them even if I have never met them!) and just MOVE ON with my life with no feelings at all… How can people really believe that this isn’t something that might bother adoptees? This has hurt my heart deeper than anything on this planet.

I have found that it’s harder for me to grieve the loss of what was LOST with all my relationships with being adopted, than it is for that person to actually leave this earth. This might be complicated to some who aren’t adopted. But when someone dies, most of you have MEMORIES! Adoptees, we don’t have that! LOST IS TRULY LOST! You never truly lose when you have memories to hold onto forever.  I have had a harder time accepting what was LOST in memory form, than my biological family dying and leaving this earth. All that did was make me give up HOPE that some memories would be created, somewhere in my life. But the missed and lost memories CAN NEVER BE REPLACED. I can’t sit at their funeral and talk about all the fun times we had! There are none! But this isn’t for one person, or two.. It’s for our entire families!!!!

I know I’m not the only adoptee who feels this way. I know I can pull a positive out of such heartache,  and that’s the ability to never take a moment for granted. Time spent is the most valuable thing on the earth. I wonder if experiencing such a profound loss is the reason my love language is “Quality Time”..

The other aspect that comes to mind is the fact that no where in my life has anyone ever asked me how it’s felt to loose so much in adoption. Yet everyone wonders why I’ve always struggled with such low self worth & struggled with sharing my feelings. My adoptive parents never let me know I could LOVE my first family so I felt like I had to hide my love for them and they were more a piece of me than anything. Was my love for them unimportant or something I should be ashamed of? It made me feel that way, and this is why I always felt like I was unimportant and struggled with low self.worth.   No one ever cared enough to ask how I felt. It’s baffling to me that the world doesn’t understand the trauma involved with adoption. It’s time we wake up as a nation and start to TRY to understand how adoptees feel. If I had an adoptive child I would be researching every adult adoptees blog and learn as much as possible to try to understand my child the best I could.

As a 40 year old woman in recovery for adoptee abandonment & rejection issues I’m just now scratching the surface on my issues relating to being adopted. I’m extremely grateful for this place where I can share my true feelings. Can any other adoptees relate?

Pamela Jones


3 thoughts on “Funerals, Death, Loss & the Adoptee, Only Speaking for Me!

  1. Yes I can relate I have been through alot of grief and am an adoptee…. I am stuck in grief though since being on my healing path and trying to grieve the loss of nmom for me all the other grief gets in the way… My first loss was my husband who died when my son was 3 months old to a work accident … that was harsh and all my adoption issues surfaced at the time and I didn’t even know why ((now I do))).. Next was amom I was the only one that cried at her funeral and I cried way to hard I think maybe I was just grieving the loss of “mom” which maybe in my unconcious mind included my nmom… at 50 after my son grew and moved on I started my search and all the brainwashing I had recieved over my lifetime wore off I was hit with emotions I didnt even know I had…. At the begining of my search I found out I had two older bros I was exstatic. Three months later I found out they were dead and missing.. then last May my adad died … I did not go to his funeral as we now lived on different continents and I felt like he knew I loved him when I was alive and would not know if I was there or not now he was dead…. I have always been a little obsessed with death and dying and because of the ptsd that I got originally from being removed from my nmom I am always expecting the worse scenario… I have even wished for my own death many times on this painful road adoption led me down and that is since I was a young child… I now know that it is suicide ideation so same thing obsessed with death…. I hope my post helps to let you know that I think this is normal for alot of adoptees..

  2. Hello Paula, I have been reading some of your posts as well as posts on various forums. I am fascinated and curious as to why the anger and angst. I was adopted at about 7 months. I am now 61. I recall my parents telling me I was adopted, perhaps when I was about 10 – I don’t really recall the conversation or circumstances around being told. After that I don’t think I ever gave it much thought as it was basically irrelevant to me. I grew up in a wonderful family with wonderful parents and grew into my own person. I had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and never once felt I wasn’t as much a part of the family as anyone else.

    I certainly feel loss at family funerals and reminisce over fond memories. To me, family is who raised me, molded me, who I grew up with, who I grew close to and who I loved. Everyone is different and perhaps I am a unique case, and I certainly don’t mean to discount the very real feelings other adoptees have. But why should one mourn the “loss” of something never experienced? To grieve what might have, could have, or even should have been seems strange to me. Yes, if I (capital I) went one way and not the other at one of life’s crossroads, perhaps I could have reason to wonder what might have been. But I had no part in my adoption, have no memories of my birth mother or birth siblings. My memories, my life, was and is with the family I was adopted into and the family I have now. I thank God I was adopted by my parents for they had the greatest part in molding me into who I am.

    I hope you and everyone who is suffering find peace with who you are, who you’ve grown into, what defines you at the present stage of your life. Every living thing on this planet has a birth mother. What every living thing doesn’t have is the richness of relationships, the ability to be self aware, to consciously choose who and how to be, and the ability to transcend, to a great degree, genetic code passed among generations. Peace to all.

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